Modern Taiwanese bubble tea chain the Alley will soon open in New York City.
The young Taiwanese brand from graphic designer Mao-ting Chiu has grown to 300 locations across Taiwan, China, Japan, Canada, France, Australia, and California since it first opened in Taiwan in 2015. Its first NYC location will be in the East Village at 68 Cooper Sq., between East Fourth and East Fifth streets, set to debut in June.
With the aid of social media, Alley’s Instagrammable sweet drinks and decor have attracted fervent milk tea lovers to line up for hours for a sip of tea whenever a new store opens. Chinese people coin tea shops like the Alley as the “internet celebrity tea,” meaning the tea goes viral overnight on social media, like internet celebrities.
In the upcoming New York Alley, customers can pick a drink from a menu of two dozens teas that range from bubble tea to fruit tea. “Brown sugar deerioca” — the brand’s logo is a deer head — is a signature milk-based sweet drink with no tea in it. Alley’s other popular drinks are made of fresh milk and local black or green tea. The tapioca pearls, or what the Alley calls deerioca, are made by the restaurant.
The Alley abandons artificial syrup, instead using a syrup it makes from Taiwanese brown cane sugar. All the ingredients, save for fresh fruits, will be imported from Taiwan. Apart from drinks, customers can also order light desserts and snacks that are made in house. In Los Angeles, an Alley sweet drink sells for $6.
The 1,000-foot square space will accommodate 33 seats. The restaurant will have a minimalist vibe, though encourages people to stay and drink.
Alley’s unique aesthetics gained instant and explosive popularity particularly among the health-conscious young Chinese who are upgrading their consumption habits for everything, from clothing to the cup of tea they drink.
In the years since bubble tea picked up steam across the world, tea brands that have swept Asia have upped their game. The newest trend brewing in the greater China area is that brand-conscious businesses are creating a sophisticated tea culture that stands on equal footing to the long-standing coffee culture of the West.
That same approach is used here in the U.S. by brands like the Boba Guys, which has three locations in NYC that have the same minimalist decor in stores, but catchy branding tailor made for social media.